Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell

For immediate release: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010


North Tonawanda Police Department receives crime-fighting grant from New York State to enhance investigation of reported burglaries

The North Tonawanda Police Department will use a $10,000 grant from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to enhance the way its officers investigate reported burglaries.

The grant will allow responding officers or evidence technicians to collect DNA evidence at the scene of every reported burglary. DNA often provides a critical link to solving those crimes, preventing additional break-ins and linking the responsible individual to other crimes. It also can clear individuals of criminal involvement in the early stages of an investigation.

“Burglary is a serial crime. If you solve one burglary, you have likely solved others and prevented several more,” DCJS Acting Commissioner Sean M. Byrne said. “This grant will help the North Tonawanda police not only solve crimes, but prevent future victimization. Despite the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis, Governor Paterson’s administration remains committed to assisting local law enforcement agencies with their efforts to enhance the safety of their communities.”
Since the inception of the state’s DNA databank in 1996 through Sept. 30, 2010, at least 1,094 individuals statewide have been convicted of burglary as a result of DNA found at the crime scene. Solving burglaries also solves other crimes: DNA given for convictions to a first-, second-, or third-degree burglary charge statewide has resulted in links to 345 sexual assaults and 65 homicides.

North Tonawanda Police Chief Randy D. Szukala said: “While most of us get up and go to legitimate jobs each day, others dedicate their lives to committing crimes. Through our use of DNA evidence collection and the vast bank of samples New York State has already collected, we hope to be able to close out cases occurring in our city and in our surrounding areas by sharing this evidence information.  Criminals aren’t confined by the boundaries of cities and with this tool neither are the police.  If our evidence helps another community and their evidence helps ours it is a winning situation.”

In addition to the North Tonawanda police, nine other agencies received the one-time grants, which are funded through the federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program: police departments in Brighton (Monroe County), Cortland (Cortland County), Greece (Monroe County) and Rome (Oneida County) and sheriff’s offices in Columbia, Fulton, Orleans, Tompkins and Warren counties received the burglary grants.

DCJS targeted the grants to Upstate agencies that serve smaller cities and suburban towns, as well as suburban and rural counties, that experienced a 15 percent or more increase in the number of reported break-ins from 2008 to 2009 and had a minimum of 100 reported burglaries last year. North Tonawanda saw a 56 percent increase in reported burglaries (from 121 to 189) from 2008 to 2009.

“New York State has made enormous progress in the fight against crime over the last 20 years, due in part to the smart investment of state resources at the local level, particularly in the state’s urban centers,” Acting Commissioner Byrne added. “This grant allows us to expand those partnerships to smaller jurisdictions that are wrestling with spikes in crime, with the hope that the additional assistance will allow them to successfully address crime patterns before they become crime trends.”

The state Division of Criminal Justice Services is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free telephone number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.